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Barry Faulkner, Cheshire House District 12

Barry Faulkner

Age: 70

City or town of residence: Swanzey

How long have you lived in your House district? 15 years

Family: My wife, Carol, and I both grew up in Keene, married 49 years.

We have two grown children, five grandsons.

Education: Bachelor of Arts and Masters in City Planning from Harvard, JD from Suffolk University Law School

Occupation: Attorney

Organizations to which you belong/have belonged: Keene Rotary Club, Historical Society of Cheshire County

Public/government service: Transportation Planner, Massachusetts DOT, 6 years; Elected Member, Representative Town Meeting, 22 years; Arlington (Mass.) Redevelopment Board, 20 years; Monadnock School Board, 4 years; New Hampshire House of Representatives, 4 years.

1. If you could pass one piece of legislation to help New Hampshire’s post-pandemic economic recovery, what would it be?

Property tax relief, through increased school aid, support for county nursing homes, support for municipal pensions and other expenses that have been pushed onto the property taxpayer. We have the highest per-capita property tax of all the states in the country. The property tax is an unfair tax, levied disproportionately to the wealth of the taxpayer, and the burden it places on our working families and fixed-income and elderly citizens is a huge drag on our economy.

2. New Hampshire’s school-funding formula is once again before the N.H. Supreme Court. Whose responsibility is it to fix this problem and how?

The Supreme Court has already ruled that the New Hampshire Constitution requires the State, and specifically the legislature, to ensure that every child receives an adequate education. To date, the legislature has developed a school aid program that funds less than a quarter of the actual costs of providing an education to our children. Even so, this school aid program depends largely on a statewide property tax, which falls heaviest on those of use with the most modest incomes. If the legislature doesn’t fix this problem, the Court may well impose its own formula for school aid. We need to come up with a better solution: an adequate statewide school funding source other than the property tax.

3. Is there a role for the state in police reform? What specific reforms or changes, if any, should the Legislature make?

We in New Hampshire have been blessed by avoiding much of the racial tension and history of police misconduct that have exploded into protests and worse across the country. We must continue to discourage the militarization of our police departments that, too often, leads to a view that we citizens are the enemy. And we must provide our police departments with the training and support of other professionals, so that medical and mental health emergencies need not be treated as crimes requiring a show of force by law enforcement.

4. How can we make it more feasible for people on fixed incomes to stay in New Hampshire — and in their homes?

For many of our seniors living on social security and pensions, two of the biggest housing costs are property taxes and home heating fuel, both of which are higher in New Hampshire than most other states. The best situation for our older generation is to have family nearby, but too often our children leave New Hampshire for opportunities elsewhere. We need to encourage a sustainable, multi-generational population by providing good-paying jobs that take advantage of our skilled and well-educated work force, by family-friendly employment policies such as paid family leave, and by continuing to invest in a top-quality public school system.